Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



Rock band formed '68. Along with Emerson, Lake and Palmer and others of that ilk, and with several classically-trained members, they combined instrumental fluency with electronics and thick vocal harmonies to make 'classical rock', a commercial success but critically regarded as pretentious and empty. Vocalist Jon Anderson (b 25 October 1944, Lancashire), bassist Chris Squire (b 4 March 1948, London; d 27 June 2015, Phoenix AZ) recruited guitarist Peter Banks (who'd previously played with Squire in Syn), Tony Kaye on keyboards and Bill Bruford on drums; they began gigging in London and opened for Cream farewell concerts in late '68. Albums on Atlantic began with Yes and Time And A Word '69-70; Banks left (released The Two Sides Of Peter Banks on Capitol '73), replaced by Steve Howe; with Anderson as primary composer and Kaye introducing synthesizer The Yes Album '71 scraped into the top 40 LPs in the USA. Kaye left, replaced by composer/keyboardist Rick Wakeman (b 18 May 1949, London) ex-Strawb and experienced session player: he played mellotron, harpsichord, clavinet etc among the keyboards; Fragile '72 was a top five LP in USA including hit 'Roundabouts', the single edited for length.

Close To The Edge '72 reached no. 3 in USA, their best showing; Bruford left to join King Crimson, replaced by Alan White (had played with John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band, others) for the live three-disc Yessongs '73 and two-disc Tales From Topographic Oceans '74 (with lyrics by Howe and Anderson based on Shastric scriptures). Wakeman had already begun making solo albums, and left replaced by Patrick Moraz for Relayer '74; Wakeman returned for Going For The One '77 and Tormato '78, all these except Yessongs were top ten LPs. Wakeman and Anderson left, replaced by Geoff Downes and vocalist Trevor Horn for Drama '80. Anderson, White, Kaye and Squire re-formed with Trevor Rabin on guitar to make 90125 '83 produced by Horn, a top five LP including U.S. no. 1 hit 'Owner Of A Lonely Heart'. 9012Live '86 was recorded on tour, concentrating on solos by band members, followed by Big Generator '87.

The original quartet re-formed but could not call themselves Yes, so called their album Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe '89; fans could choose between the principal Yesmen not called Yes or a later lineup called Yes. SQuire was the only founder member who played on all the Yes albums and on all their tours. The lineups were combined on Union '91. Open Your Eyes '97 closed a lot of eyes, with Anderson, Howe and others, closer 'The Solution' drifting around the timewarp for 23 minutes. Keys To Ascension 1 And 2 were live albums from '96.

Moraz made Refugee '74, 'i' '76, Patrick Moraz '79; Howe made Beginnings '75, Steve Howe Album '80; Squire made Fish Out Of Water '75, White Ramshackled '76. Anderson solo LPs were Olias Of Sunhollow '76, Song Of Seven '80; he teamed with Vangelis as Jon and Vangelis (see Aphrodite's Child) '80-1; Horn and Downes had some success in the UK as Buggles '80 (see Trevor Horn). Wakeman's instrumental LPs on A&M were commercially successful, including The Six Wives Of Henry VIII '73, Journey To The Centre Of The Earth '74 (based on Jules Verne, made live with the London Symphony Orchestra and narrated by actor David Hemmings), Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table '75 (ice pageant with huge forces), the soundtrack to a Ken Russell film Lisztomania '75 (with Roger Daltrey), No Earthly Connection '76 with scaled-down English Rock Ensemble, soundtrack White Rock '77 (about Innsbruck Winter Games), Criminal Record '77 (with Squire and White), Rhapsodies '79 and more in the New Age direction, CDs later on Griffin, including Country Airs, the biggest seller on the UK Coda label '88.